THE DRAMATIC TRANSITION FROM ETATIST'
TO LIBERALIST' SOCIAL STRUCTURE
abstract: The process of a triple-layered social transformation in Bulgaria (1989-2010) is not only a challenge to the system analysis, but also it is of interest with respect to the theoretical and methodological development of modern sociology.
The focus here is on the dynamics, scope and character of the social inequality which was established in Bulgaria in the last two decades. Such an analysis is important not only as far as the structure of inequality is a key and complex social and political problem. The extent to which the change in the stratification profile of society provokes new highlights in the theory of social stratification is also important, as well as a new sensitivity of the methods of monitoring such a large-scale process.
There is also a need for a new productive synthesis in sociology: (1) between concepts at a micro, meso and macro level; (2) between the describing positivistic and understanding hermeneutic approaches; between the structural analyses of institutions and social order, along with the plastic fine analyses of human culture and values, identity and motivations, capacity for happiness and empathy.
then in Accordance with Natural Laws in the Science of Sociology
During the last two decades (1989-2010) three system processes of social transformation have been combined:
(1) Political and ideological process – a radical post-socialist transition was carried out. There has been a transformation of the whole political and institutional, economic and financial, moral and attitudinal, behavioral and everyday system in the state and society;
(2) Economic and power process- transformation in the general process of globalization, inclusion and subjection to the western power, super-state and world financial and corporate, military and informational, legal and media centres and mega-monopolies. This is also an overall transformation and a process of inclusion as a subsystem in a new world system which is tremendous in scope;
(3) Civilization and cultural process – an exceptionally dynamic and also an overall transformation in Bulgaria, in the process of its affiliation and integration in the multicultural open world, dominated by the world mega-media, the world internet network and liberated individual communication. It is about a process of generational and institutional entering into the information age – both as another dimension of individualism, and as a unique liberation for state and social control, and as new opportunities for labour mobility and enterprise. Generally, it all about a mass mobility of population – both in terms of migration, and as a change of professions and character of labour, and as family models and reproductive values, and as an ideological and political reorientation.
In essence, during the 1990s Bulgaria was spun around in three post-transformations at the same time: (1) to post-socialism and capitalism; (2) to post-modernity and individualization; (3) and during this decade to post-liberalism as well (but closer to the US model, and farther with respect to the "social model" of Western Europe<1>).
The systematic transformation in Bulgaria started with a long-lasting economic (industrial, agricultural, financial, public and communal) crisis and the socalled "shock therapy" (1989-1999) and finished under the impact of the blows, dealt by the general world crisis (2007-2010). Bulgaria is now positioned in the periphery of the Western cultural circle, the so-called "European-Atlantic" community. Of course, it makes use of their achievements and the high civilization standards. However, at the same time it is also involved in the risks, the present crisis which probably strikes harder such smaller and more peripheral countries as Bulgaria.
In Bulgaria as well as in some of the other post-socialist countries from Central and Eastern Europe the process of a triple-layered social transformation assumed a particularly serious aspect. That is why the system analysis of the transformation in Bulgaria is of interest not only to it. The transformation is also of practical interest with respect to the theoretical and methodological development of modern sociology – economic, political, demographic and one of the reproduction of the population and nation, institutions and civil structures, the new dimensions of the social integration and social identity. The transformations here, in Bulgaria, are a stimulating "practical laboratory" for the development of the "scientific laboratory" of sociology as a science.
In a global context the dynamics of modern society (not only in Bulgaria, but also in our civilization circle) is exceptionally big. 20 years of fast-developing and radical social changes, caused by the revolutionary personal computers and pocket mobile third-generation microcomputers, internet, google and facebook, along with the political globalization and multi culture are dissolving and redefining the narrow national and protectionist limits. All this has radically changed the new young generations and intelligentsia, business and politics, social regulators and even crime; it has changed the institutions and bureaucracy. All this has imparted a mass character to post-modern philosophy ("everything goes"), shifted the dominant in the stratification from the class and caste belonging to lifestyles and cultural or consumer identity; it has driven the young generations and intelligentsia into the swamp of "paradoxical happiness" amid the "culture of narcissism" (after Lipovetsky, and Lash). In the last 10 years in Bulgaria the attributes of information age of futuristic vision have become a mass way of live and labour organization (after Toffler and Castells). The open society has already turned from a political imperative into a way of civil thinking, freedom and personal mobility.
Sociology on the move. Society and life in it are changing – universally and dynamically. It obviously and logically follows that sociology in its turn should change too. The above-described large-scale social change, complex in its nature too, is an objective basis for a change also in the sociological fashion, for a new transposition of the key paradigms of the last two or three decades and the logical tendency is towards an adoption of various dominating sociological projections.
In the period between the 1930s and 1970s of the 20th century the societies with a developed sociology: (1) coped with Great Depressions (USA, 1929-1933; Europe, 1945-1960); (2) built up a new technological industry of incredible productivity; (3) there were two huge and opposed geopolitical blocks (capitalist and socialist); (4) cybernetics and computers cleared the way to inaccessible macro dimensions – space, mobile finances and a strategic trade on a world scale, military forces which can reach every place in the world in a matter of minutes, mass global media through the television, which allow a world cultural monopolism.
During this period societies were busy solving the systematic problem of their sustainability, the problem of their ability to overcome crises, construct the institutions and governments of the new super-states and the world hierarchies and networks. It is all about macro-dimensions, with a fundamental "macro-system" category, with priority problems in the logic of "structure-functional optimization", with a leading dichotomy of "social production – mass consumption and living standards".
This is an age in which the public procurement to sociology (the need for a practically usable product of sociology) was for adequate and practically usable macro-models of society as a system. Hence, the dominance of the structural and functional theories and models: of Marton and Parsons (USA, 30s-50s), in Bulgaria (the end of the 60s – the beginning of the 80s). In my view this epoch ended with Toffler's book The Third Wave (1980).
In the next epoch (the 80s until now) things marked a shift to the other end, the attention was focused on man and his dilemmas. It is about a natural turn from macro to micro projections. It is natural in as much as on the one hand, society (during the 50s – 70s in Western Europe and North America) was stable, getting rich, prospering as a whole, practically for all its classes and social layers, and on the other hand, democracy and humanism were extended, but along with a serious existential crisis of identity and values, of loneliness and depression, stress and drug-addictions. Micro sociology is adequate: (1) in a materialistic and alienated world, a one-dimension man's world (after Marcuse); (2) when there is a requirement for individual freedoms and independence, when there is a search for civil rights; (3) in the negative projection of extreme individualism and atomization; (4) in the context of overconsumption and "paradoxical happiness" of post-modern hedonism (after Lipovetsky); (5) as well as in the increase of the size of smaller or larger communities, expelled or expelling themselves from the integrity of society (grey zones, ghetto-communities, segregated minorities, tribalism).
Thus, for three decades (from the 80s until now) sociology was shifted towards phenomenological projections, to micro sociology, to understanding approaches and instruments, to hermeneutics. It was similar to psychology which from the scales of social psychology, as a psychology of mobs and large-scale social religions<2>, and as a mass psychology of advertising and marketing active manipulation, shrank and went back to the micro scales of the psychology of the small group and team, and even more – to individualistic psychology and still more – to the individual and group psychotherapy.
During this stage of phenomenological micro sociology, there were conducted and created exceptionally interesting, creative and useful research, applied methods, books. However, in my opinion, the social time of this sociological fashion and dominant is already a thing of the past. I am convinced that in our time, today, all this will again be shifted aside.
In the centre of sociology there will naturally and logically find a place the macro theories, research and concepts, which describe and forecast the big social systems, super-state political and economic unifications. It is logical that this should happen in a world, dominated and organized by the new world empires, the global monopolies – financial and production, commercial and military, media and educational. Such macro sociology indeed becomes necessary again because of the geo-strategic restructuring of the world – from the present world with a single centre to a new world, with probably five or six centres, and the respective balance among them.
Here is the place for me to quote Pitirim Sorokin who, in a previous turning of the spiral in the development of sociological science, announced with some concern at the 6th Congress of the International Sociological Association (Evian, France, 1966): "Today sociology is on the move: one way leads to new summits and big syntheses, to more adequate sociological concepts, and the other one leads to outdated and hackneyed dogmas, devoid of creative drive and impeding the growth of our cognition." <3> Today sociology is on the move again.
The opposition of the academic authorities of the last three decades is understandable, but sociology cannot help transferring its dominant to macro projections again. I expect a revival of the authority macro models and sociological thinking to shift from the way of life and interpersonal to the scale of huge macro institutions exerting more and more control – not only state ones, but also world super-state ones. (after Galbraith, Stiglitz). On this scale and in such a general frame there will have to develop: (1) the theory of identity and integration; (2) the theory of communities and social belonging; (3) the theory of social status and mobility; (4) the theory of human communication and behaviour. On this scale and in such a general frame there will have to develop: (5) the research on activities<4>; (6) on reproduction of population, labour resources and nations; (7) and of course, on public space in modern society – about the government institutions, along with the public organizations and movements, about the professional and social networks, about the young generation and youth subcultures.
It is pertinent to mention here that it is not about a dogmatic return to the structural and functional theories and macro models of the middle of the last century (Parsons in the western world; Mihailov in Bulgaria). It is rather about their super-structing, further development, detailed presentation, modernization. There is a need for plasticity in accordance with the contemporary social realities, processes and tendencies. There is also a need for a new productive synthesis in sociology<5>: (1) between concepts at a micro, meso and macro level; (2) between the describing positivistic and understanding hermeneutic approaches; between the structural analyses of institutions and social order, along with the plastic fine analyses of human culture and values, identity and motivations, capacity for happiness and empathy.
Established in Bulgaria during the Last Two Decades.
Here I will focus my attention on the dynamics, scope and character of the social inequality which was established in Bulgaria only for two decades (1989-2009). Such an analysis is important not only as far as the structure of inequality is a key and complex social and political problem. The extent to which the change in the stratification profile of society provokes new highlights in the theory of social stratification is also important, as well as a new sensitivity of the methods of monitoring such a large-scale process.
The social inequality in Bulgaria during the last two decades, the time of the so-called "Transition"<6> – from the previous type and modus of society (socialist) to the present type and modus of society (liberal-democratic, market-monopolistic, openly mobile). There are several fundamental profiles which require and merit a profound and complex sociological analysis:
• The social inequality opened in a shocking way towards the two extremes, towards the two
poles – up towards the superrich and powerful, and down towards the degrading poverty<7>
As a result of the changes in the 90s (in two waves: 1990-1994, 1996-1998) in the civil structure of Bulgarian society two social poles were formed – the super wealth and the excluded super poverty; 1 percent (approximately 25,000 families, households; up to 100,000 people) with a concentration of tremendous wealth and power, versus 20 percent (over 1.5 million people), oppressed by misery and illiteracy, helplessness and isolation, social exclusion.
It is about two specific group and communal interests which are separated and opposed not merely to each other, but also to society as a whole:
The one social group is placed up high – because of their power (economic, media and political), their subjective arrogance and cosmopolitan snobbery (pretending to be American tycoons), as well as because of their greed to privatize society as a whole (renouncing their moral commitment to it).
In this triple combination they succeed to a considerable degree. The last element is concretely the objective correlate of the concept of "oligarchization". This 1 percent of super rich is dominated by 20 or 30 people who own and manage over 100 billion Euro worth of capital assets.
Now in the context of the world crisis and the efforts to get out of it, just this is being made problematic by putting up the slogan "Put People First", "Liberty Leading the People".
The other social group is down under – because of its lack of adaptation to the contemporary conditions of labour and welfare, because of a communal lapse in unsociability and deviations, because of their subjective self-perception as being vic-tims of social discrimination. The latter ousts their motivation from strife towards adaptation in modern society and integration in it, to speculative self-stigmatization, civil aggressiveness from the status of being outsiders, and a respective destruction of goods, norms, order, peacefulness in society.
The power, wealth, mentality and values lead the first group on the way to a civilized separation from and over society (national, Bulgarian, traditional within the framework of the state), and affiliate it to the cosmopolitan western elite of the world of globalization.
The poverty and isolation, helplessness in labour and competition, social encapsulation in ghettos and grey zones, lead the other group on the way to a civilized collapse and downfall under and aside from society – to a social, labour, value and general worldly primitiveness, to medieval and earlier forms of personal dependence and a cruel patriarchy. This group is severed from the modern world in an opposite direction – towards G-localization and its extreme form of tribalism (returning to the idea and practice of tribal and lineal forms of existence).
Generally speaking, the Bulgarian society is in a fast process of fragmentation, of missing the social link with the whole, of shrinking of the subjective social horizon to the scope of individual way of life and referent groups, to the scope of micro communities with dominating values of collective, often aggressive, egoism.
This is clearly visible and at the same time hard to perceive by mass consciousness in a society which two decades ago used to live in an opposite modus. In the period of socialism (the end of the 40s until 1989) society was characterized by a strong social cohesion, universally supported by the ideology and system of official values at the time, by the respective educational and socializing institutions, by the institutions for social control and regulation at the time. It is clearly visible and hard to perceive in a former society with a high degree of egalitarianism, charged with high claims for social justice and solidarity, trained to aspire to labour realization above all, living with the dominant of social productivity and responsibility. It is clearly visible and hard to perceive in a system which oppresses elites so that they do not go up much above middle and lower classes, and conversely – it artificially raises the standard and stimulates the integration of marginal social layers and communities in order to bring them closer to the socialized and middle social layers.
The high degree of social polarity and social distance, characteristic of the USA, the United Kingdom and some other western countries during the second half of the 20th century, became a fact in Bulgaria – very fast and in a shocking way – as early as the first three or five years of the transition period, and were established as a social model during the two decades of social transformation.
• The subjective perception of the above-mentioned objective reality doubles the negative
effects and the intensity of their significance.
Concerning the sense of civil freedoms, society is also divided and polarized.
The first group of people, communities and layers consider freedom as independence, as "methodological individualism", as personal wealth, power and influence, which give security for freedom to the individual. Pursuing this train of thought, freedom is considered to be an egotistical privilege – in its extreme version as personal exemption from all types of order and lawfulness, duty and conscience, civil responsibility and involvement.
The people with such understanding of freedom and claims for being free are trying to impose the peculiar practices of anarchy and lawlessness, corruption and lobbyism, mafia and racket. These are people and communities, who place themselves above the law, applying mainly force and brutality to attain their goals. They profess cynicism as a creed of success and pragmatism. They make themselves free, eager to make others dependent and serflike.
These people are recruited both from the high stratification zones of the elites, and from among the lower outsider and marginal communities and layers. What we have high up the ladder are royal-like personages, stars, nomenclature, subscribed to power, "newly-fledged" rich people and new pseudo "aristocracy". What we have down under is ghetto ringleaders and suburban feudal lords<9>.
The post-modern ideological slogan "Everything goes" in the sense that everything is allowed and non-punishable, is exceptionally convenient for them. This in its essence is freedom of non-socialization and value disintegration from society and its norms and institutions<10>.
The other people and institutions perceive freedom in the sense of a spiritual, worthwhile, innovative and creative opportunity. However, this presupposes that freedom should be perceived as a shared benefit – as a possibility for democracy and tolerance, for mutual progress and stimulation to make achievements, for a balance between personal expression and prosperity on the one hand, and social benefits and development, including freedom for charity and humanistic activity on the other hand, for a noble social mission and patriotism.
These people are mainly recruited from the zones of middle social layers, consisting of employees and a part of the intelligentsia, the legally functioning business, as well as the socialized lower layers – all these people need an educated and responsible leadership on the part of as big a part of the elites as possible.
With respect to the idea that the modern state can be and must remain a state of social justice, society is also polarized:
On the one pole are the people with nihilism or with a philosophy rejecting social justice – because of the absolute disbelief that such a thing is ever possible in the society of money, greed, economic fetishism, learned hedonism, or because of the fascistic idea that whoever can make it in the context of modern dynamics and possibilities for mobility may take unlimited advantage of the social resources and goods, whereas the "losers" may be vegetating somewhere in the periphery of things.
At the opposite end of the line are the elderly people with the painful nostalgia for the former times of "equality and justice", "social responsibility and idealism", "honest labour and worthy life" – a painful nostalgia which embitters them against modern society and makes their adaption impossible, embitters them against young generations, political elites, the state as a whole.
On this opposite pole are not only the elderly nostalgic people but also those young people who do not want to put up with the cynic pragmatism of modern times, and cherish a collectivist attitude and idea of a civil and national cause, who want to lead a humane and noble life.
Finally, there is a polarization with respect to the idea of a solidary society<11>.
On the one pole are the people who simply do not understand this word anymore, have underdeveloped senses of the manifestations of empathy and solidarity, haughtily despise the "crazy" guys who think, defend, fight for concrete forms of solidarity and humane sharing attitude in society. These people frequently these days continue to quite dogmatically profess postulates of extreme liberalism, utopian libertarianism, romantic capitalism, and individualism which is an end in itself<12>.
At the opposite end of the line are the people who understand the principle of solidarity and share it – not only at a micro level, in their intimate surroundings, among their families and friends, but also at a meso-level – in their profession, the town or village, religious community, generation, sub-culture community. This happens even at a macro level – with respect to the nation and state, economy as a whole, society as an overall organism and system which has a need for sustainability and social balances; it has a need not only for institutional but also of civil activity towards protection from risks and deformations, and prevention of crises and catastrophes.
These people understand the principle of solidarity in a moral and psychological way, they understand it as a political and managerial philosophy, hail it as a business and corporate practice (for instance in the form of "cause related marketing"), as well as an anti-crisis philosophy for socialization of the economy, exercising control over the oligarchic clubs, and returning to and activating the so-called "social state"<13>.
• There has been a sharp drop in the manageability of the so polarized social inequalities and
value incompatibilities – the inertias of the civil society are going beyond the control of
politicians and governmental institutions.
The politicians and government also prove to have low efficiency in the face of the present social conflicts, alternatives and incompatibilities – because of (1) out-dated instruments; (2) frequently because of inadequate way of thinking or outdated or too futuristic ideas; (3) still more frequently because of a sharp lack of willpower and consistency, bravery and resistance; (4) lack of flexibility and creativity.
One root of the evil is that politicians and administration are increasingly losing competence and state adequacy, instead of accumulating it and modernizing their capacity.
During the second half of 2009, after the parliamentary victory of the new political party GERB (founded in 2007) and after the executive power was delegated to their government, the social authorities in Bulgaria were involved in a new cycle of nomenclature change, spun around in the successive wave of state replacement of the governmental, administrative and business nomenclature – for a fifth time in a row during the twenty years of the Transition<14>. This has its health and optimistic projections – at least as a social expectation. At the same time, as an objective result at least in the following one or two or three years, instead of increasing intellectual and professional capacity, modernizing the informational, prognostic , analytical and problem-solving capacity, there will be a collapse in the cadre capacity – as professionalism, productivity, motivation for good work; there will be again a collapse in the cadre capacity in the governmental bodies and institutions, as well as in the central and regional administrations.
This is an inevitable objective result at every successive massive nomenclature translocation. It is about a human contingent of approximately 250,000 people, plus their families and relations. It is about the successive politically organized vertical social mobility on a huge scale.
Generally speaking, during the years of the transition period, the ruling parties and governments did not deal with the curbing of the shocking inequalities and preserving the social link, just the opposite – it was they who shockingly generated a fast-running process of polarization in society; this polarization was: (1) economic and income-based; (2) regional and settlement-based; (3) professional and educational; (4) ethnical and religious; (5) criminal-mafia and civil; (6) moral and behavioral on the one hand and ideological on the other. With regard to the privileged classes, instead of regulating their enrichment, dressing in power, caste separation, and liberation above the law, the successive party rulers concentrated their efforts mainly on the nomenclature replacement of people and groups. Instead of convalescing the social structure, the people in power were busy making an additional, malignant social translocation, leading to an increase of deviation in society – mafia criminals replaced the previous mafia criminals, business circles replaced one another, the new corrupted politicians and clerks were busy driving away the previous politicians and clerks. The system, instead of being convalesced, was driven in the opposite direction.
As an objective result, three processes became distinct in modern Bulgaria, which are a proof of the drastically reduced rate of manageability:
(1) The grey zones – civil communities living compactly (on the basis of ethnic, traditional-
religious, feudally-separated, criminally-separated, caste- and elite-separated
characteristics) separating themselves territorially and so-cially, culturally and civilly, even
They live separately in their own residential areas, suburbs, settlements, municipalities, expelling themselves from society, minimizing the possibilities for a state control, regulation, and media publicity. Some of them disclaim the official Bulgarian language and national culture and disintegrate themselves from the general school education system. A large part of them remain outside the public labour market, as well as the healthcare, insurance and pension systems. In all these forms of localized belonging, they in fact disintegrate themselves from society as a whole, from the state and nation as a whole – it is a process of the integrity of society practically falling apart and the helplessness of the state on the rise.
At the top of the social pyramid elite caste communities establish themselves – self-isolated in their enclosed and guarded residential areas, public houses, schools, entertainment and recreation establishments. From the bottom of the pyramid the ghetto communities and minority enclaves grow bigger in size – they are also established and isolated in their suburbs and small settlements, in their tribal and feudalized micro societies.
(2) The mass emigration, which has been going on for 20 years, in three big waves
(1989-1994, 1999-2002, 2007-2009).
Its cumulative result is quantitatively in the region of about 1.5 million people who left Bulgaria and settled in other countries – approximately 300,000 people in neighbouring Turkey, another about 300,000 people in neighbouring Greece, with the rest concentrated in several large countries in Europe (Germany, France, England, Spain and Italy), in the USA, Canada, Australia and South Africa.
From the point of view of quality, it is about a process of draining a considerable part of the human capital of the Bulgarian economy and modernization potential, from the capacity of the administrations and the political system, from the reproductive resource of the Bulgarian nation, its educated and highly productive layers and professional classes.
(3) The malignant spreading of corruption, organized crime, the emergence of mafia structures
within the local and central authorities.
They have reached such a social scope, organizational and financial power, political lobbying, that they stifle the normal economic development. Besides, they feudalize more and more industrial branches, regions in the country, key professional classes.
Let me summarize: The degradation from corruption, through the inevitable growth of crime and its organization in orderly mafia structures (national and internationalized) in Bulgaria has reached a catastrophic size and a devastating effect. We can compare the situation with an advanced stage of cancer with metastases already difficult to contain. It is obvious that there is a need for an urgent and radical operation intervention, combined with a powerful chemotherapy, along with a stimulation of the civil potential to make a huge effort for internal self-convalescence. Otherwise, Bulgaria will unfortunately turn into a zone, in which the Western world will be able in practice to study its anti-utopia – with its main destructive and antihuman tendencies and results, including the "powerless state" in a "powerless world", after the expression of Manuel Castells<15>, and in the sense, meant by Alain Minc, Christopher Lash and an increasing number of interesting contemporary authors.
or a Continuing Process of Mass Exclusion and Degradation
Of course, here it has to be clearly said that there is not a real society without social inequalities, stratificational hierarchy, without a fan from the elites and privileged layers and castes down to the lower strata and he poor, down to the people with limited possibilities and a hard or impossible access to goods and benefits.
However, there are natural inequalities and sound norms for social anchoring and containing the inequalities – inequalities which remain within the frames of mutual tolerance, of the idea for at least a minimal social justice and civil solidarity. These are inequalities which stimulate the social development, mobilize the civil energy, and produce a benign evolution in society as a whole.
Conversely, there are also artificial and deforming inequalities, destroying the social connection, escalating class and communal conflicts, inequalities which blow up societies and enfeeble states – such inequalities drive not small communities towards tribalism and separatism, and degrade not small communities, even whole social layers to primitivism and archaism.
In the first case, there is sought an optimal and tolerable degree of the difference. The art of politics is to find and uphold the point of balance between the different civil interests. In the opposite case, we go along the way towards escalation of the conflicts and incompatibility, towards an accumulation of enormous civil alienation and discontent, political anarchy and two-way vandalism.
Bulgaria, after two decades of transition, has proved to be a good example of the latter – an internally stagnated society, in which there is already critical mass, like in a disintegrating society. The social inequalities which established themselves quickly and shockingly in Bulgaria during the last two decades are far from stimulating development and modernization. To a considerable extent these inequalities place a civil barrier impeding the realization of development and modernization. It is the extreme and unacceptable inequalities that are in the depth of the social processes. What we see on the surface is a multitude of separate facts and manifestations of wasting of positive efforts, the allocated joining, cohesion and stimulating European funds, disheartening of the social optimism, diversion of the creative professional and civil energy.
The present structure of the social inequality in Bulgaria as a whole does not stimulate modernization and development. Conversely, as a whole, the structure of inequalities is a barrier, obstructing the modernization of the economy, mainly because of three basic reasons: (1) it hampers the general development of human capital, also through its draining outside Bulgaria; (2) to a big extent it makes impossible the prosperity of society as a whole, because the latter is undermined by the reigning of a mentality of collective and caste egoism; (3) it erodes the power of the state and its ability to pursue a modern and constructive social policy, depriving it of an enormous part of its resources and spinning it in the spiral of low managerial efficiency.
Quite a large part of the population and massive civil segments are in a situation of marginalization and exclusion, driven to or beyond the line of educational and cultural degradation, labour disability, and civil inadequacy. And this is not a matter of negativism on the part of the author, but is merely statistics – it is about objective profiles of the population, labour resources, and inertia in the structure of the reproduction of the labour resources and population.
Bulgaria now, in the fourth year of its European Union membership, is really in a dramatic situation – with a hand reaching out to catch the ripe fruit, but never managing to get hold of it, which is the reason for new disappointments forming in society. The most profound reason is to be found inside the civil structure of the real society, in the structure of the population, in the harming tendencies and inertias.
The polarization of the social inequalities in society is an acute humane and humanitarian problem in Bulgaria today, but it at the same time is also a barrier, difficult to surmount, impeding the really modern and overtaking economic development.
I am convinced that all this must be clearly admitted on time, in order for it to be postulated in the basis of a nationally responsible policy, in order for the respective strategies to have their clear value basis and a declared national mission. Here it is important to say that a prerequisite for a political realism is the macro sociological assessment of the situation, the main structural and fundamental balances and unbalances in the system of society.
In such a macro scale let me make just one last point. The current social structure in Bulgaria is not stimulating development, especially when we take into account the civilization stratification in society, which develops to the extent of a difficult compatibility or radical incompatibility between:
• The self-isolating stratum of wealth and prosperity, the super rich oligarchic 1 percent of the
population, "explosion of the opulence at the top",
mass and compact communities in isolation, under the line of degrading misery, with archaic
tribal forms of everyday life and collectivity – another 5-10-15 percent of the population<16>;
• Communities, classes and layers with a modern degree of education, special qualification,
information management, spiritual interests and intellectual abilities, with a free individual
mass and compact communities and layers, sealed in primitive illiteracy, mental
underdevelopment and civil bankruptcy;
• Communities with a cosmopolitan value orientation and lifestyle, with a dynamics of life and
career, referent groups and communication, personal interests and forms of self-realization,
communities and layers, enslaved to the lineage and place, feudal structures of making a
living, having the fear of civil helplessness before the strong and brutal;
• Communities of the new information age, with a digital culture, mobile means of doing work
and communicating, organically entwining the post-modern individualism and virtual reality in
their lifestyle and personal realization,
those people who are returning to tribal form of life, stagnating in religious archaism and
A parti-colored world, striving to attain multiculturalism, mutual cultural entwining and tolerance, but also generating increasingly powerful and mass reverse tendencies towards paranoiac nationalism, cultural separatism, and aggressive impulses with respect to the various cultures, religions and national traditions. This is a process going on in the whole of Europe, and the whole world as well.
Bulgaria is included, and I would say even, struck in this general process – a process which has turned out to be still divided by deep abysses between different epochs, charged with smouldering bombs of religious and cultural imperialism and revanchism. It is becoming more and more obvious how difficult it is to combine in the practice of a "unified, unitarian, overall" society pre-modern, modern and post-modern senses and values, civil models and relations. Their practical combination very frequently has forms of painful cohabitation or hot forms of civil clashes.
For two decades the civil society in Bulgaria was in the process of moving in two different directions – back and forth, to progress and , conversely, to primitivism.
On the one hand, on the first pole – communities and layers, which from the stage of socialism passed to the convergent information society of social networks, social dynamics and mobility, multi culture and individualistic style, lifestyle and identification.
It is about a part of Bulgaria which lives in the realities of the European and world information, open and mobile society.
On the other hand, on the opposite pole – communities and layers which from the stage of socialism passed to feudal and tribal forms of existence, of substantial alienation in modern society, doomed to isolation and self-containment in grey zones of outsiders, leaving the sphere of the so-called "socially useful labour", most frequently replacing it with a life of deviation and crime, inner family-lineage-tribal violence and exploitation, including forms of everyday torture – begging alms, prostituting, bearing children to have them sold, living a miserable life, getting bigger social assistance.
It is about a part of Bulgaria which is going back to industrialism of the beginning of the 20th century, or still further back, to primitive agriculture and ruling patri-archal spirit.
Dear colleagues, I have tried to draw your attention to key social problems in Bulgaria and the western world today. With respect to them, modern sociology owes society clear answers, precise analyses, realistic forecasts in two key respects:
(1) Where have we got up to, what is society now as an objective structure and functioning,
what are its chances in the foreseeable 20-40-60 years?;
(2) What was the methodology and instruments of such social transformation and stabilization,
concretely so that Bulgaria could take advantage of its EU membership, and avail itself of
the goods amid the western civilization?
If modern sociology , the Bulgarian one in particular, manages to answer these and similar social questions, then it would realize itself as a really modern and contemporary heuristic science, and in this sense, as an important element of social publicity. This is necessary in the present time of "fading stars", according to the generalization of Paul Krugman. The science of sociology has a social mission to generate "good ideas" for society and its present crisis and transformation, heal it and direct it rationally, and also dethrone on time "the convenient nonsense" of the ideological dogmatism of the last 20 or 30 years.
1. BAUDRILLARD, Jean. 2007. Globalization as a cultural shock. The play of the world antagonism. Sofia, Dom na naukite za choveka I obshtestvoto. p. 258 (in Bulgarian).
2. BECKER, Gary S. 1991. A treatise on the family. Harvard University Press. Pp. 304.
3. BELL, Daniel. 1994. The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. Sofia, Narodna kultura. p. 420.
4. CASTELLS. Manuel. 2006. The Power of Identity. Sofia, Lik. p. 390 (in Bulgarian).
5. CHALAKOV, Ivan (at all). 2008. The Networks of Transition. What happened in Bulgaria after 1989? Sofia, Iztok-Zapad (in Bulgarian).
6. FUKUYAMA, Francis. 2006. After the Neocons. America at the Crossroads. Profile Books, Great Britain. Pp. 226.
7. GEORGIEV, Andrey. 2006. Europe in the World Order. Politic and Economic problems in the transatlantic and European discussion. Sofia, Trakia. p. 328 (in Bulgarian).
8. KAZAKOV, Atanas. 2001. The Human Capital. Sofia, UNWE. p. 226 (in Bulgarian).
9. KEISTER, Liza A. 2005. Getting Rich: America's New Reach and How They Got that Way. New York: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 310.
10. KLEIN, Naomi. 2007. The Shock Doctrine. The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Metropolitan books. Pp. 800.
11. LASH, Christopher. 1997. The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy. Sofia, Obsidian. p. 254. Extract in: Text 2. Sofia, 2007. p. 632-649 (in Bulgarian).
12. MIRCHEV, Mihail. 2008. Two new classes in the structure of the Bulgarian society after The Transition (under the conditions of Globalization). In: Ponedelnik, 7-8, Sofia, p. 34-51.
13. MIRCHEV, Mihail. 2007. Texts 2 Invitation for Sociology. Sofia, M-8-M. p. 672 (in Bulgarian).
14. PETKOV, Krastyo. 2006. The Late Ethno-nationalisms in Bulgaria: Their Economic and Social Roots. In: South East Europe Review for labour and social affairs. Vol. 2. Pp. 109-127.
15. PUTNAM, Robert D. 2000. Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster. Pp. 544.
16. RINGOLD, Dina (at all). 29th Oct. 2002. Bulgaria: The Transforming Profile of Poverty. World bank Paper. p. 152.
17. ROTHKOPF, David. 2008. Superclass. The Global Powerelite and the World They are Making. Great Britain: Little Brown. Pp. 376.
18. Social support. An interactional view. 1990. Ed. by Sarason, Barbara R., I. G. Sarason, G. R. Pierce. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Pp. 528.
19. SOROKIN, Pitirim. 1969. Differences and Unity in Sociology. See the collection "Outlook on Sociology Today", Sofia: Nauka I Izkustvo publishing house. p. 343-362.
20. TILKIDJIEV, Nikolay. 2002. The Middle Class and the Social Stratification. Sofia, LIK. p. 508.
21. TILKIDJIEV, Nikolay and Martin Dimov. 2003. Statute Base of the Democratic Consolidation under the Postcomunism. Sofia, Iztok-Zapad. p. 184.
22. VLADIMIROV, Zheliu (at all). 1998. Bulgaria in the Circles of Anomy. Sofia. p. 225. (The empirical data are gathered and processed by ASSA-M, including the correlation and factor matrices.)
23. WALLERSTEIN, Immanuel. 1995. After Liberalism. New York: The New Press. Pp. 288.
Biographical Note: Mihail Mirchev was born in Sofia. He graduated from "St. Kliment Ochridski" University in Sofia, with a higher education degree of philosophy and specialization in sociology in 1979. He began teaching at the University of National and World Economy as Associate Professor in 2005. He was conferred a degree of "Doctor of Philosophy (Sociology)" in 1986, a title of "research associate – second degree" in 1990, Associate Professor at the Free University in Burgas in 1997 and at the University of National and World Economy in 2005, as well as the title of "Doctor of Sociological Sciences" in 2009. He is a member of the International Sociological Association (ISA), RC 28 "Social Stratification and Mobility", and the Union of Bulgarian Journalists. Scientific interests include: social stratification (class structure, professional communities and castes, dynamics of the stratification profile, standard and quality of life), theory of activity, social management, research in the problems of children and youth, family and marriage, intergenerational interaction, reproductive behaviour and attitudes, electoral research and forecasts, political science and marketing. General Manager of ASSA-M Agency.
<1> I have in mind the difference between the two social models, the explanation by such authors as: John Galbraith, Jeremy Rifkin, Joseph Stiglitz, Jill Lipovetsky and others.
<2> I think that these social religions are four basic during the 20th century: (1) communist-socialist, (2) fascist and racist; (3) liberal-democratic; (4) nationalist and protectionist; These are the four "secular religions" during the last century, which took the place of the dominating religions in Europe and the Western world as a whole.
<3> Sorokin, Pitirim. Differences and Unity in Sociology. See the collection "Outlook on Sociology Today", Nauka I Izkustvo publishing house, Sofia, 1969, p.343-362.
<4> Activity – exceptionally important and key sociological category (of medium level), somewhat forgotten during the last three decades, marginalized together with the structure-functional theories, models, approaches. See a conceptual scheme for it: Mirchev, Mihail. Texts 2. Invitation for sociology. 2007, p.197, 562, look also at: p.298-305, 311-312, 332-342.
<5> Look at a previous publication of mine: Mirchev, Mihail. Texts 2 Invitation for Sociology. 2007, p.356-368, 272-279.
<6> There are different opinions as to when the Transition period ends: whether it was in 1999 with the invitation for Bulgaria on the part of the European Union – the estimation is hat Bulgaria has already turned into a democratic state with a functioning market economy; or in 2006-2007 – with the inclusion of Bulgaria in the European Union; or, now in 2009 – with the parties of the transition being ousted from power – both the "blue" parties, and the "red" party, along with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) as being the balancing power between them?
<7> Poverty which also manifests itself in the form of juvenile poverty which reproduces itself and grows through a high birthrate in the low-more precisely, low marginal and outsider layers and communities. Both because of the social polarization after 1973 (40 percent of the population became impoverished), and because of the fact that the state is expending critically small finances for assisting the poor families with children. See Krugman, Paul. Curb Trade Welfare. Sofia, 1999, p.16, 386, 185-194…
<8> Examining the process of sharp shock polarizing social stratification here in Bulgaria, we have to keep to the general framework. In the scale of the western world towards the end of the 70s there started reforms taxation and employment (the years of Thatcher and Reagan), followed by deregulation of the financial sector. Social inequality, after several decades of general social prosperity, once again became a grave problem in western society.
After its considerable decrease in the period between the 10s and 60s of the 20th century, during the last three decades the inequality index is constantly and increasingly on the rise in order to reach the present situation when in the United States of America: "the Gini Coefficient" – measure for the social distance between the rich and poor – is comparable with the one in China. China is a fast developing country in which the opening of a huge abyss between the minority of newly-fledged rich and the majority living in poverty like in the previous times is inevitable. Concerning the USA this polar extension of the coefficient is indicative of a reversal of the development. Evidence for the latter is need to carry out a health reform (the efforts of Barack Obama in 2009-2010) – so that 38 percent of the population of the allegedly the richest country should have access to health services and insurance – something which today is not included in the welfare norms, but is rather in a threshold minimum of an elementary civil and human right of all citizens.
<9> See authors like Christopher Lash. The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy…; Lee Yacocca. Where did the leaders disappear?; and others
<10> Concerning the two principally different understandings of freedom and the respective social practices see the exceptionally analytical book by Jeremy Rifkin. The European Dream…The American Dream.
<11> Solidarity as an overlaying principle in society was clearly formulated by Emile Durkheim. Now, in the context of a global crisis (2007-2010), solidarity is again more and more insistently being articulated as a goal and component of the anticrisis reforms – from the United States to Europe, from the Western world to the Eastern, as well as to the South of the world.
<12> In the spirit of Friedrich Hayek and Ayn Rand, of the neoclassical economic theories, of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, …….
<13> What is on the agenda here is a rediscovery of economists such as John Galbraith, social thinkers such as Erich Fromm, and of course the whole scientific and political tradition of Karl Marx and Marxism.
<14> During the two decades of Transition in Bulgaria there were at least four waves of massive nomenclature replacements in the state and municipal administrations and institutions – it is about a group of about 200-300,000 people. The first was in the beginning – in 1992; the second was during the period between 1997 and 1999; the third was in 2001-2003, and now the fourth – 2009-2010.
All the four nomenclature waves were realized in the spirit of nihilism with respect to the previous leaders, specialists, employees – nihilism with a clear-cut accent, suspicions accusations of abuses and guilt for social deformations. All four waves were fraught with the emotion of malicious revanchism and sharp civil antagonism, under the slogans of ideological condemnation.
The healthy principle of succession and a clear distinction between politically nomenclature and the business cadre level in institutions was nor observed. In all the three waves of replacement there was eliminated from work an enormous quantity of qualified and competent cadres with statesman culture and work habits, and they were replaced by people without the appropriate preparation and as a rule without the specific culture of civil and social servants.
<15> See Manuel Castells. The Power of Identity… Sofia, p.218-245, 254-272.
<16> See the exceptionally informative book by Paul Krugman – Curb Trade Welfare…, Sofia, p.189, 184-203, 15-34, 122-150.